Chapter 4 Learning and Teaching
3. The benefits of participatory learning
When teachers organize and arrange students to participate in society according to the framework of this curriculum, it can provide students with first-hand observation and direct contact with persons and objects outside schools and, at times, hands-on experiences. Such kind of experience is beneficial to students’ civic and social competencies. By obtaining first-hand experiences of political and social issues, students gain a better understanding of political and social systems and also clarify misunderstandings caused by stereotyping and unthinking. All these help students make fair judgements through re-constructing views towards the local community, the nation and the world as well as different social groups. In the learning process, students may develop different views and feelings towards certain groups and behaviour. Teachers should seize the opportunity and encourage students to exchange their views and apply what they have learned to compare, analyse and re-construct their own views.
The implications of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (2009)
The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2009 is under the aegis of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. The Education Bureau commissioned the Hong Kong Institute of Education and the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong to undertake the ICCS 2009 in Hong Kong.
The objective of the Study is to investigate the ways in which young people are prepared to undertake their roles as citizens in a range of countries / places. It also tests students’ civic knowledge and their attitudes towards civic engagement, including the extent to which they expect to be engaged as future citizens. The Study surveyed over 140,000 Secondary 2 or 3 students from 38 countries / places. In Hong Kong, over 2,900 Secondary 2 students from 76 schools joined the Study. Their score in the civic and citizenship knowledge of the international cognitive test ranked fifth among the 38 countries / places.
The survey results revealed that Hong Kong students generally agreed with the importance of students’ participation in school affairs such as taking part in discussions at a student assembly, taking part in decision-making processes about how the school is run, etc. The results also indicated that students have a certain degree of expectation in such kinds of participation. Current school situations provide ample opportunities and a high level of malleability in terms of student participation, within schools and beyond. If teachers can arrange appropriate activities for participatory learning according to the design of this curriculum, it can help deepen students’ understanding of related topics, foster their civic and social competencies as well as related values, and satisfy their expectations in terms of participation. In short, more than one thing can be done at the same time.
(f) Reading to Learn
Life and Society (S1-3) provides a wide coverage of topics for student enquiries, ranging from personal development to world order, which involves a good deal of learning materials. Reading to learn enhances students’ content knowledge and broadens their horizon by developing understanding, application and reflection on the reading materials. It is a very useful learning and teaching strategy that helps students master the foundation knowledge and provide a good basis for learning activities such as small group discussions. Reading to learn also complements participatory learning.
By engaging students in reading sessions and class discussions before activity, students are equipped with prior knowledge and are better cognitively prepared for the activity. After the activity, if students revisit the reading materials or re-interpret the related experiences to integrate learning at cognitive and behavioural levels, they will have better grasp of the issues and make fairer judgements.
Fig 4.6 Integrating reading to learn with participatory learning
Because of differences in social background and personal experience, students develop different understandings and feelings towards reading materials and draw different conclusions. With interactive learning activities such as small group discussions and personal sharing, students develop a better understanding of oneself and the world they live in, and bring new elements into play. Learner diversity is also better catered. To maximise the benefits of reading to learn, teachers can relate reading with learning tasks to consolidate what students have learned in the lesson.
re-interpret experiences related Before
learning Reading to learn
Reading to learn Revisit reading materials / Re-interpret related experiences Provide prior knowledge
Case: Reading to learn – “Tough materials and Soft landing”
Different types of reading materials provide students with rich knowledge as well as widen and deepen thinking. However, many junior secondary students are not interested in “tough materials” which contain serious content. Please refer to Appendix 3 (pp.176-177) for the sharing of a teacher from a Tuen Mun secondary school on how to facilitate the “soft landing” of “tough materials”.
(g) Learning outside the classroom
Learning beyond the classroom refers to learning activities that are not related to schools or teachers, while learning outside the classroom, generally speaking, means changing the venue of learning activities to places other than the classroom. In the latter case although the activities are not conducted in classroom, they still pose learning opportunities to students. Learning outside the classroom can link the learning in the school with daily life. Learning experiences that make use of community resources outside the classroom, including field trips, visits, community services, project learning, leadership training etc, are authentic learning experiences.
The knowledge generated from these learning experiences is no longer abstract. This kind of authentic and experiential learning experience cannot be provided by classroom learning.